Meetups attended in 2020: 5/36
New meetups attended in 2020: 2/12
(Last updated 19th Feb 2020)

Event: Telford Agile Meetup
Date: 5:30pm Tuesday 14th January 2020
Hosts: Premalatha Balan and Terrance Darling
Location: CapGemini UK, Telford
Talk: Becoming a High Performing Team
Presenter: Mel Marsh (Sim Corp)
Topic of meetup: Agile

My meetup challenge (where I aim to attend at least 3 meetups a month, including 1 I’ve never attended before), didn’t start well. Last week I planned to attend the Open Study meetup in Birmingham. This was a programming open study session, and I thought it would be a great way to combine my meetup challenge with my goal to learn python.

Unfortunately, some minor car trouble prevented me from making the journey. Don’t worry, it was nothing serious. The issue has been sorted, although my bank balance is suffering slightly as a result. Fortunately, my second attempt at attending a meetup was more successful.

One great thing about setting myself this challenge is that it has prompted me to really hunt for interesting meetups in the area – such as this one in Telford. This is the first meetup of the year, and it was one I’d never attended before.

The CapGemini offices were very easy to find with a car park right next door. This is always helpful when visiting a town for the first time. I arrived a little late but there were several people around to greet me. There were about 20 attendees in total. I think I was the only QA there, or at least I didn’t speak to any others. I chatted to a couple of developers and some scrum masters.

The Main Talk

The main talk was by Mel Marsh who used to work at CapGemini, and now works at SimCorp. She has been a scrum master since 2010, which is very impressive.

Her talk, titled ‘Becoming a high performing team’, started out talking about the various definitions of ‘high performing teams’, the role of a scrum master and various models which can help the scrum master form a high performing team.

Four particular stages that were pointed out for developing a team strategy involved:

  • Forming – Teaching and leading
  • Storming – Mentoring and guidance
  • Norming – Coaching and supporting
  • Performing – Facilitating and delegating

Empathy Mapping

The sessions included an exercise in which we had a go at Empathy Mapping. Normally this is used to gain an understanding of the customer however in this case we used it to gain an understanding of what may influence a team member. Using this, we created our own definition of a high performing team.

Here are some of the different empathy maps that were created:

Here are a few ideas that the different teams came up with:

  • Think/Feel
    • Relaxed, Confident, Trusted, No Fear, Valued, Rewarded, Knowing the team goal, Knowing what they need to do, Enjoys being in the team
  • Say/Do
    • Complements others, Helps Others, Supportive, Suggests ideas, Open to suggestions, Positive, Forward Thinking, Honest, Asks for help, Accepts feedback, Gives feedback
  • See
    • Approachable, visible management with direct contact, Colleagues who are empowered with accountability, Positive work environment
  • Hear
    • Radical Candor, Problems and Solutions, “You can do this”, Supportive work environment, Company and industry metrics, feedback, Understanding what the business wants
  • Pains
    • Fear not fitting in with team, Lack of investment and support, Changing or Confusing requirements, Fear of failure
  • Gains
    • Fun, Confidence, Mutual Appreciation, Earning a living and enjoying it, Ability to develop professionally, Success, Freedom to speak out, experiment with new ideas and fail

Creating our own definitions

Using our empathy maps, we came up with the following definition:

A high performing team are supported, trusted and know where to go for help. They have the freedom to express themselves, experiment and fail.

Group definition of a high performing team

Its not a bad definition considering we came up with it in only 15 minutes. I feel it is not quite complete. Its missing something about the team members knowing what needs to be done and are motivated to perform for the benefit of the project and company.

Maybe a complete definition would be something like this:

High performing teams are supported, so they know what needs to be done and have the means to do it.

They are trusted, so they can speak out and experiment with new ideas in an attempt to improve the team.

They are motivated, so will work hard for the benefit of the project and company.

They are not afraid to fail, so they are willing to take chances and show initiative without fear.

My own definition based on the definition created at the meetup, and some additional ideas of my own.

Summary

This was the first time I’d attended this meetup and was really impressed. I’m glad I started this challenge as without it I would never have learnt about this meetup. The talk was really interested and offered some interesting insights into the role of the scrum master and how this role helps create high performing teams.

The main exercise of Empathy Mapping was an enjoyable and insightful one. It is important to think about what makes a team or a single person high performing. I’ve already suggested this exercise for the next test team meeting at work.

Grant Wright shared some amazing sketchnotes from the talk. They can be viewed here.

Click here to see more blog posts about meetups I’ve attended in 2020.